The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust, consisting of 112 independently incorporated local BBB organizations in the United States and Canada, coordinated under the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) in Arlington, Virginia.
The BBB collects and provides free business reviews on more than 4 million businesses to over 123 million requests from consumers in 2013, helping make the BBB’s website rank among the top 300 most-visited websites in the United States.
The BBB serves as an intermediary between consumers and businesses, handling over 885,000 consumer disputes against businesses in 2013, of which close to 78% were settled. Nearly 400,000 local businesses in North America support the BBB.
The BBB prospects successfully vetted businesses to become dues-paying Accredited Businesses that pledge and continue to adhere to the BBB Code of Business Practices. In return, the BBB allows Accredited Businesses in good standing to use its trademarked logo in marketing materials.
Although it has “bureau” in its name, the Better Business Bureau is not affiliated with any governmental agency. Businesses that affiliate with the BBB and adhere to its standards do so through industry self-regulation.
To avoid bias, the BBB’s policy is to refrain from recommending or endorsing any specific business, product or service. The organization has been the subject of controversy, particularly related to its practice of giving higher ratings to businesses that pay a membership fee. The BBB disputes the claim that payment from businesses is required for them to receive an “A” rating.